For the last 24 summers, Meltdown festival has allowed the Southbank Centre to hand over its programming calendar to a class of people hardly famed for their organisational skills – musicians. Luckily the impressive list of Meltdown curators (including David Bowie, John Peel and Yoko Ono) have always pulled through, making the festival an annual cultural highlight of the city. M.I.A. is curator of this year’s Meltdown (June 9-18).
The fearless singer and artist had promised to ‘redefine the concept of a melting pot’ with the programming of this year’s festival. So, unlike previous years where household names like Radiohead, Nina Simone and Grace Jones took the focus, the line-up for 2017 is temptingly underground. And young. And global. From the scorch of Parisian afro-trap star MHD to the whiplash of pioneering Californian queer rapper Mykki Blanco, Meltdown 2017 looks set to be a winner.
Who’s playing at Meltdown festival 2017?
Winners of the Mercury Prize in 2014, Edinburgh hip hop three-piece Young Fathers – Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham ‘G’ Hastings – have continued to create a mutant blend of lush and aching post-punk, afrobeat and kitchen sink rap.
The Belgian dance music mavericks will perform new album From Dewee with a seven-piece band that includes not one, not two, but three drummers.
Signed to M.I.A.’s label, Afrikan Boy often explores his Nigerian heritage and childhood in Woolwich with frank humour. The only shock is that this 28-year-old’s breakout track ‘One Day I Went to Lidl’ is now ten years old.
It was only a year ago that French rapper Mohammed Sylla started uploading self-made videos on YouTube, often revolving around dance moves to gleeful tracks in which he raps in French and West African languages. He has since racked up hundreds of millions of views.
With his trademark Ghanian straw hat firmly on, Mr Eazi pumps out winning, sweet afrobeat-pop. The nattily dressed songwriter, who is also a qualified mechanical engineer, was recently signed by Nigerian superstar Wizkid.
Fresh from collaborating with Drake, the Peckham grime star continues his renaissance. Rumours are he will bring out a slew of special guests.
This twenty-year-old Swedish rapper has already experienced the full gamut of fame – from becoming a viral sensation at 16 to a heavy personal drug addiction. He has returned with more hazy rhymes over undeniably catchy computer game beats.
The fearless, politically-minded rapper and songwriter is already proving 2017 is her year with sold out shows across London.
This date will mark the reggae singer’s first live show in the UK; his ethereal reggae tracks led the roots revival in the mid-noughties and his velour-soft voice has the ability to melt the Royal Festival Hall.
M.I.A. first approached Jamaican dancehall singer Daps to collaborate on her recent album ‘AIM’ after hearing his track ‘Shabba Madda Pot’, a jump-up celebration of Shabba Ranks’s mum’s cooking.
Toronto twosome Crystal Castles offer cool-kid lo-fi synth-pop, ranging from dreamy to ferocious. Edith Frances’ silky vocals and sexy style go a long way to make a case for the group’s electro-boom staying power.
M.I.A. approached the prodigous French electronic artist on Twitter last year, asking to collaborate. He will perform to fans and passing tourists on the Riverside Terrace.
Awful Records Takeover
Details are slim on exactly who will be DJing at this after-hours party in the Clore Ballroom but the hugely influential Atlanta label Awful Records are at the helm and label founder Father will perform.
Brooklyn rapper Young M.A burst onto the US hip hop scene with her balls-out debut ‘OOOUUU’ last year. Much attention has been drawn to her being openly gay but her tough, bragging, raspy delivery is what’s winning fans internationally.
Genesis, a half-Swedish, half-Tamil rapper, is a natural protégée of M.I.A. Signed to brilliant Atlanta label Awful Records, she brings a punk, feminist and overtly sexual pulse to electronic hip hop.
Outrageous, confrontational and vulnerable, Blanco is simply a huge, throbbing ball of talent. His popularity has been bubbling for some time and anyone unsure should check out 2016 track ‘Loner’.
Samson is a queer icon who found fame as one third of groundbreaking riot grrl band Le Tigre. JD will be bringing the party vibes as DJ to the Clore Ballroom.
M.I.A. will close the festival by bringing special guests on stage for one of her trademark explosive performances, that’s bound to sprint through her many hits including ‘Paper Planes’, ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Borders’.
Find more London music festivals
The Garage in Islington has been a mainstay of London’s music scene since 1993, hosting bands like Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Radiohead and more. Following a recent change of ownership to the DHP Family (the guys behind Oslo Hackney), the whole venue has been revamped with a view to maintaining its title as one of the city’s landmark music venues. The Garage itself has a capacity of 600, it's been restored to its former glory with an all singing all dancing sound system and a fully refurbished bar area. There’s some decent food offerings on site as well with the newly kitted out General Store and even a cheeky night club tucked upstairs, Thousand Island, decked out with mirror balls.